CLEVELAND (WJW) – One local nonprofit is stepping up its efforts to reduce accidental overdose deaths by offering a relatively new injectable naloxone product.

Save Our Families President Kristy Steele is on a mission driven by the loss of her mother.

“Save our families was founded in honor of my mom Nita Steele,” Steele said. “She passed away from a preventable overdose on October 28, 2017.”

Kristy is focused on helping others who are battling addiction to prevent more people from the same fate. Now, she has a new resource at her disposal.

“It’s one of the newest forms of Naloxone to hit the market. They were just approved last year, so this September we started carrying them and we’ve noticed they’re in high-demand because they’re similar to an EpiPen,” Kristy said.

ZIMHI is a single-dose Naloxone injection that works rapidly to revive someone who is overdosing. 

“You can literally take it and inject it into your thigh,” Steele said. “It’s very easy to use, it’s safe and there’s a high dose so it responds faster than a lot of the other forms that are currently on the market.”

The treatment is available at a time where overdose deaths are climbing in Cuyahoga County.

The ADAMHS Board reports 675 people died from accidental overdose in 2021, and already 338 people have died as of September 12, 2022.

ADAMHS projects 650 people will have died from accidental drug overdose this year based on current data. Fentanyl is the leading cause of these deaths.

“Fentanyl, a strong synthetic opioid, is driving overdose fatalities in Cuyahoga County,” Director of External Affairs Beth Zietlow-DeJesus said. “Fentanyl is being combined with cocaine, methamphetamine and put into illicit pills that look nearly identical to their prescription counterparts. This year, nearly one-third of the overdose fatalities occurring in Cuyahoga County are happening to African American/Black individuals – an increase that is staggering. It is important that everyone carry naloxone, injectable or spray – it can help save a friend, family member, neighbor or anyone who may be suffering from an opioid overdose.”

Steele and Save Our Families is distributing ZIMHI to the community for free, thanks to a grant from Project Dawn. Steele wants more people to pay closer attention to the crisis that’s killing thousands of people in Ohio each year.

“Your child could get a hold of a simple pill thinking that they’re going to be socially using with their friends and never wake up,” she said. “It’s important to break the stigmas and get out here and understand that we’re really facing a crisis right now. We’re losing children, teenagers and grown adults to this.”

More information on Save Our Families can be found here.

The ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County has a full webpage of harm reduction resources, including fentanyl test strips, naloxone and Naloxboxes.

If you are ready for treatment now, call 216-623-6888 or dial 988 for a referral to services in Cuyahoga County.